John Spellar MP (12/09/14)
We welcome this opportunity, given that in recent days questions have been raised about how the Government have gone about setting out their approach to tackling ISIL. Mr Baron highlighted yesterday’s comments by the Foreign Secretary in which he ruled out British military action in Syria and the subsequent statement from the Prime Minister’s spokesman that all options remain on the table, so I am sure that the Minister will understand the House’s desire for clarification.
As President Obama continues to set out further detail about his strategy for combating ISIL, it is crucial that the British Government also recognise the need to provide reassurance to the British public about their approach. The Opposition have made it clear that we support the targeted airstrikes authorised by President Obama in Iraq and we strongly support the UK Government’s provision of arms and assistance to the Kurdish peshmerga forces that are the effective front line against ISIL. Of course, as the situation develops and the international community agrees its common approach to the threat, we will continue to seek assurances from the Government that if there is any change in their approach to Iraq, Syria or the wider region they will seek the appropriate endorsement of this House.
We welcome the lead taken by French President Hollande in setting up an international conference in Paris on Monday. Will the Minister confirm which regional partners will be attending and will he also set out whether Iran has been invited and what the UK’s position is on that? Given that the United Kingdom currently holds the chair of the United Nations Security Council, what more does the Minister believe that the UK can do to help co-ordinate these efforts?
What assurances can the Minister give that Iraq’s new Government recognise the need for a truly inclusive approach that addresses the needs of all of Iraq’s diversese communities? In addition, what can the Minister tell us about the support that will be provided by the countries in the region, not just the Arab League but Turkey and Iran, and what steps are now being taken to ensure that any international efforts to tackle ISIL are co-ordinated by the international community and that there is a clear regionally led approach to such a strategy? Furthermore, can the Minister now give any further detail about whether there are any discussions about how to restart the Geneva II process, which surely still offers the best hopes of long-term stability in Syria?
President Obama has rightly said that left unchecked ISIL extremists pose a threat not only to security inside Iraq but to countries outside the region, so will the Minister provide the Government’s latest assessment of the number of UK nationals who they believe are currently actively part of ISIL’s campaign?
Finally, will the Minister confirm the commitments made by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary about the need for ongoing debate to ensure that this House is kept fully up to date?